It is no secret Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne are potential Heisman Trophy candidates this year.
Lawrence is 25-1 as Clemson’s starting quarterback and has already played in two national championship games and won one of them. Etienne is Clemson’s all-time leading rusher and already holds ACC records for rushing touchdowns and total touchdown in a career. He is set to break just about every rushing record in the conference’s 67-year history.
However, the two Tigers will have some challengers of course. And some wonder if Lawrence and Etienne will cancel each other out in the voting process.
Who are Lawrence’s and Etienne’s top challengers for the Heisman Trophy and who could be this year’s Joe Burrow or Lamar Jackson?
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State: Last year, Fields went 13-1 in his first season as a starter, guiding the Buckeyes to the College Football Playoff where they lost to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl. Fields threw 41 touchdown passes in 2019 and ran for another 10. He threw just three interceptions, but two came in the loss to Clemson. With him now being the center of the offense with J.K. Dobbins gone to the NFL, Fields could put up big numbers in Ryan Day’s system.
Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas: Ehlinger is as tough as they come at quarterback. He is not afraid to put his head down and go pick up those tough yards when his team needs it. He is this generations Tim Tebow. He will do whatever it takes to win. He will put up enough numbers to be in the conversation, but if the Longhorns can beat LSU and Oklahoma this year, he could very well win it.
Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State: Besides Etienne, Hubbard is the only running back listed as a serious contender. Last year, he rushed for 2,094 yards, which led the nation, and scored 21 touchdowns. He will have a chance to be a finalist if the Cowboys can find a way to play for a Big 12 Championship.
The Ones to Watch
Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina: Howell broke Lawrence’s freshman record for touchdown passes in the ACC with 38 last year, which led the conference. He also threw just seven interceptions and his 3,641 yards were second to Lawrence. He averaged 8.6 yards per attempt, and he had a rating of 160.3. If he can put up better numbers this year, which many believe he will, plus the Tar Heels can make it into the ACC Championship Game, he could very easily be in the mix.
Bo Nix, QB, Auburn: Nix is a lot like Ehlinger. He is tough and he will do whatever it takes to lead his team to victory. He will get the opportunity to go against Howell in Week 2. He still needs to become a better passer, but he has proven he can make big passes when needed and he will have the opportunity to pile up rushing yards and total touchdowns as well. Also, playing UNC, LSU and Georgia will give him an opportunity to have plenty of Heisman moments.
Spencer Sanders, QB, Oklahoma State: If Sanders can cut down the interceptions, he threw 11 last year, he could be a dark-horse candidate for sure. Last year, he threw for 2,065 yards and 16 touchdowns while completing 62.8 percent of his passes. He also rushed for 628 yards and two more scores. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry. If he can increase his passing stats and run for 1,000 yards and limit the mistakes, he might join Hubbard as a serious candidate for the Heisman Trophy.
Najee Harris, RB, Alabama: Like Etienne, Harris is a three-down running back who has the ability to be just as explosive. Last year, he rushed for 1,224 yards and 13 touchdowns, while averaging 5.9 yards per carry. He also caught 27 passes for 304 yards and scored on seven of those receptions. Look for him to carry the load a little more this season. If he can produce like he did last year when he was called on Harris will find himself as a finalist.
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